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Life skills taught by studio

Martial Arts academy highlights values, along with kicks and punches

Jan. 18, 2011

Oak Creek— The term "martial arts" may conjure up images of Chuck Norris or Steven Seagal fighting evil on the movie screen.

Mixed martial arts, though, can help everyone - not just action heroes - and they serve many more purposes besides taking down criminals bent on destruction and mayhem.

The new Victory Martial Arts Academy, which opened on Jan. 1 in Oak Creek, offers classes for anyone from age two to adults.

Instructors teach skills such as taekwondo, ju jitsu, kickboxing, karate, wrestling and judo, but they also focus heavily on what co-owner Leonard Henderson refers to as "life skills."

Those include discipline, respect, self-esteem, honesty, belief in yourself and communication, just to name a few. Emphasis is also placed on goal-setting, perseverance, self-control, fitness and coordination.

"We focus on life skill building," Henderson said. "We want to help people change their lives and we want to help develop leaders. We don't just train fighters. We can do that, but we also want to build up the values that parents want for their children. This is a safe, family-oriented environment."

The program starts with a class for ages two through six called "Victory Tigers" and proceeds through adult classes. The Tigers class runs for 30 minutes, while the classes for ages seven and up are about 45 to 60 minutes. Hours are 4:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays.

There are also numerous programs where all members of a family can train together.

Henderson and Rey Pettis are among the instructors. Rey is the brother of Anthony "Showtime" Pettis, who claimed the 155-pound lightweight championship belt for the World Extreme Cagefighting organization in Dec. 2010.

World Extreme Cagefighting recently merged with the Ultimate Fighting Championship group, and Pettis will contend for the new unified crown later this year, taking on last year's UFC winner.

Before that, though, Anthony Pettis will join brother Rey and Henderson in helping get the Oak Creek studio up and running, starting with teaching a special seminar next week.

The Victory Martial Arts Academy chain was started in 1993 by Master Sergio Von Schmeling, a four-time world champion.

There are currently over 4,000 students in the 22 studios, located in Florida, Texas, Michigan, Nevada, California and now, Wisconsin. "We are doing well so far," Henderson said, "with about 13 new members."

Victory Martial Arts' website, victoryma.com, states that it is a "school of life," and that concept clearly reaches well beyond the familiar movie images of Norris and Seagal.

FYI

WHAT: Lightweight champion Anthony Pettis of Milwaukee will teach a seminar on mixed martial arts

WHEN: Wednesday, with a session for children 13-and-under at 5:30 p.m. and a session for those over 13 at 7 p.m.

WHERE: Victory Martial Arts studio, 9549 S. Chicago Road, Oak Creek

CONTENT: The instruction will be kept basic, and no martial arts experience is necessary

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